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GRAPHITE ADVOCATE NEWS

Issue No. 2 January - February 2001

Outlook for graphite, 2001: Since most graphite goes into steel-related uses, "the world steel industry seems to be doing better in 2000 as the Asian economies improve and the U.S. and European steel producers recover the ground lost to surplus Asian steel, but customers could be in the driver's seat only temporarily" (from Harold A. Taylor's article in the Mining Annual Review 2000). New useage in fuel cells and Li-ion batteries are positive. At this time, the U.S. economy appears to be weakening, and the California energy shortages are providing a further drag. Things may be clarified when preliminary USGS 2000 data becomes available.

An excellent comprehensive article on graphite appeared in the November 2000 Industrial Minerals. It covered the major producing countries, such as Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe, plus some minor ones. It discussed the end uses with the greatest potential, particularly fuel cells and Li-ion batteries. After years of overcapacity, excess supply, and weakening prices, the outlook for graphite was positive, mostly because of more useage in fuel cells and Li-ion batteries. Between this article and the FT Executive Commodity Report on Graphite written by this editor, almost any information needed on graphite is completely covered.

Graphite prices according to Industrial Minerals continued to be stable from 1998 through yearend 2000. Large crystalline flake (94% C) was $570-$750, large crystalline flake (90% C)was $480-$550, medium crystalline flake (90% C) was $370-$410, and small crystalline flake (80/95% C) was $270-$500, and amorphous graphite powder (80/85% C) was $220-235. Prices will be examined in much more detail in the next issue, in the light of the new USGS average prices and other factors and data.

Errata for FT Graphite report: In Figure 4 (Relative Consumption), the Brake Linings line is Refractories, the Refractories line is Brake Linings. In Figure 6 (Relative Imports), the Canada and China lines are correct, the Sri Lanka line is labelled Mexico, Mexico is labeled Madagascar, Madagascar is labeled Brazil, and the Brazil line is labeled Sri Lanka.

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